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Date of First Trial Against Cristina Kirchner Has Been Set

The case investigates irregular awarding of public works in Santa Cruz.

By | [email protected] | September 4, 2018 11:45am

cristina el paisCristina Kirchner. Photo via El País

Former President and current Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will face her first trial in a corruption case on February 26, 2019, according to the Judicial Branch’s website, Centro de Información Judicial.

The former President stands accused of illegally benefiting Lázaro Báez, a former businessman closely associated to her and her late husband Néstor Kirchner, with public works in the Santa Cruz Province in exchange for kickbacks.

According to the investigation, the Kirchners would have then laundered these kickbacks by having Báez rent properties and hotel rooms – that would ultimately not be used – through two companies they own, Hotesur and Los Sauces. These alleged financial maneuvers are being investigated in independent cases.

Former Planning Minister Julio De Vido and former Public Works Secretary José López also stand accused of being part of the scheme. All involved that have been mentioned, except for the former President, are already in pre-trial arrest as a result of their alleged involvement in other corruption cases.

Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio requested Cristina Kirchner be preemptively put behind bars as well in the context of two other cases in which she has been indicted and he is currently investigating – the so-called Iran cover-up case and the notebooks scandal – but a majority of her peers in the Senate rejected stripping her from her parliamentary immunity, arguing there is not a firm sentence against her, and her freedom does not imperil the investigation.

This investigation began after then-administrator general of the agency that oversees Argentina’s road network and current Energy Secretary, Javier Iguacel, told the courts that Báez was awarded 52 contracts to build roads in Santa Cruz for a total of AR $46 billion. According to Federal Judge Julián Ercolini, the contracts were inflated by 15 percent on average, with the sums being kicked back to the public officials in charge of awarding them.

Ercolini sent the case to trial in March last year, but only yesterday the Federal Tribunal Number Two set the date for the beginning of the trial. Ercolini determined that there is enough evidence to conclude the former President is guilty of the charges pressed against her. After the trial, the Tribunal will decide whether to convict her.

However, even if she is sentenced, the former President will have the possibility to appeal to the Court of Appeals, the Cassation Court and, if the case merits so, the Supreme Court. Therefore, an eventual firm sentence against Cristina Kirchner is still far in the future.